Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Community Figure Drawing at UW Whitewater

People have been participating in life drawing session at UW Whitewater since the 1970s, and the university allows the sessions to continue for interested area community members during the summer.  The group has free use of the drawing studio, which has a good raised platform and lighting, and schedules female and male models for people to draw.  This summer the non-instructional sessions are Monday evenings, 5:30 until 8:30 pm at the Greenhill Center for the Arts in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

It's a good deal.  The models are currently paid $36 for a three hour session, and the cost is split among the people who show up to draw.  So, it's better to have more participants, rather than fewer.

I enjoy the sessions because it is one time when I work directly from life, rather than from photographs.  I like working large and loose, like changing my emphasis from week to week, working with different materials, concentrating on line one week, or working on trying to link shadow patterns, or find a way to use watercolors in a compelling way.

Other participants work in other ways, some drawing only in graphite, or colored pencil, or pastels.  Some are mostly interested in capturing an accurate portrait, some like to capture gesture more.  The best sessions are well attended, when a sort of energy and camaraderie develops that carries everyone along for the entire evening.  Other evenings, when only one or two artists attend, the energy seems lower.

I find an evening of drawing to be a splurge, a sort of art-y retreat from the rest of the week, though it is hard to find ways to share what I draw.  Quite a few of my friends are baffled by my enthusiasm, and frankly seem embarrassed by the very idea of drawing an undraped model.  Many area shows will not accept art that features nudity.  I keep looking for converts, though, posting little flyers for the sessions, creating a page on Facebook.  But the group remains small.

These are two of the five minute gesture drawings I did this week.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Simone - For Julia Kay's Portrait Party

9x12 inches, colored pencil on toned paper

About a week has passed since I get back from my workshop week at Dillmans, and my art materials are back in the studio.  The summer session of figure drawing at UW Whitewater is underway, and I finally did another sketch for Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr.  Flicker has been where I have a record of most of my artwork, but recently they altered their format, throwing many users into a distracted sense that they no longer were in Kansas.  But I resist the urge to throw up my arms and wail.  Everything changes.  It's good to adapt.

I like the portrait party people - they are many and fearless.  This is a tight sketch, remarkable for me only in that it is larger than usual.  My week with Robert Burridge at Dillman's may have convinced me that bigger is not only better, but easier as well.  This portrait is a reasonable likeness of a woman named Simone, done with only a white and black colored pencil in a Canson tan toned notebook.  It's literal rendering is nothing like the bigger gesture drawings I did of an undraped model at my recent workshop, and then tried again at UW Whitewater Monday evening.  But there is something satisfying at the simplicity of the materials in this sketch. 

Simple is good.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Figures in the North Woods

For a number of reasons, I never took a workshop in 2012.  This year I was determined to not repeat that mistake.

So, I signed up for a class with Robert Burridge at Dillmans Resort four hours north of here, near Lac du Flambeau.  The class description indicated that the emphasis would be on drawing an undraped model, then painting in acrylic, and using collage elements, to create abstract paintings.

I spent weeks ahead of time going over the materials list, covering full sheets of watercolor paper with white gesso, figuring ways to get as much as I could into as portable a format as I could. I made sure my electronics were charged, that I had cords.  I took drawing supplies, paint, collage materials, adhesives, a bucket, in short, the works.

There were some issues.  I forgot that there is no cell phone service at the resort - it's remote.  And anyway, even if I was in Lac du Flambeau, or Boulder Junction, my yearly contract and payment was up.  So, the phone stayed in my suitcase.  I had my iPod Touch for checking weather, email, and for showing people wee photos of some of my art, but realized when I got there that I had the wrong recharging cord - for the iPad, instead.  Oops. I was able to borrow one from another student.

My drawing materials were OK, and I had enough paper, but I should have brought my gesso to use as white, and to cover up the things I did that I never want to anyone to see outside the classroom. I definitely should have brought bug spray - the skeeters were fierce.

But it was an excllent week.  I admire Robert Burridge's work very much, and it was a great opportunity to watch him work and solve problems. My roommate, whom I had never met before, was congenial and fun.  It rained, but not so much as to make life miserable.  I got to hang out in a classroom that overlooked a lovely lake, with eagles and loons on it.  People loaned me gesso.  Thumbs up.

My only quibble - many of the tips and stories were repeats from another class.  It didn't hurt to have some of them repeated, but I would rather have had more time with the model - she was lovely, calm, and altogether a professional.

Anyway, I probably made a couple dozen 3-8 minute sketches of her in charcoal, pencil and ink.  These are just a few that I liked. They're larger than I usually work, and I am determined to find a large sketch pad that has toned paper.  For now, I plan to tone a few blank pages for the local summer session of figure drawing that will be held starting Monday at UW Whitewater.